Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chewy Oatmeal Snack Bars

I found this recipe in a Betty Crocker magazine and had to try it. It didn't disappoint! My kids LOVE it - an so do I. :) I can eat one for breakfast and it keeps me full, unlike normal granola bars. I did alter it a bit, based on what I could find at the grocery store, so here's my recipe:

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup dried cranberries

Grease bottom and sides of 9x13 pan. Melt butter in 2-qt saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and maple syrup; heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla until mixture is smooth. Stir remaining ingredients into peanut butter mixture, mixing well. Press evenly into pan. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Deep-Dish Chicken Pot Pie

As a kid my mom made chicken pot pies and I always loved them. I wanted to find a pretty healthy version of the classic dish that I could make at home. This one is from Kraft foods, slightly modified.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup Italian dressing
4 oz neufchatel cheese, cubed
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 oz frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust

Cook chicken in dressing in large skillet or dutch oven on medium heat until mostly cooked through. Add neufchatel; cook and stir 3-5 minutes or until melted. Stir in flour until well blended. Add broth and vegetables; stir. Simmer 5 minutes. Pour into deep-dish pie plate or 2-qt round casserole dish; cover with pie crust. Seal and flute edge. Cut slits in crust to permit steam to escape.

If eating tonight, bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown. If freezing, cover with press-n-seal and then foil. You will bake it frozen - 400 degrees for one hour with foil then 30 minutes uncovered.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baked Pizza Mac

I came across this recipe on the Kraft Foods website, and it's really yummy! I use Kroger brand pizza sauce (Pizza Zip), and I would also recommend slightly undercooking the macaroni when you first prepare it so that it's not too tender in the end. This is an especially convenient dinner if you keep cooked lean ground beef in 1 lb portions in your freezer, like we do. :)

1 cup pizza sauce, divided
1 pkg. (7-1/4 oz.) KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, prepared as directed on package
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef, cooked, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 400°F. Reserve 1/4 cup pizza sauce.

Combine prepared macaroni dinner, 2/3 of the meat, remaining pizza sauce, egg and seasonings.

Spoon mixture into 9-inch pie plate. Top with remaining meat, reserved pizza sauce and cheese. Bake 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin-Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I wanted to make some cookies for the season and these sounds super yummy. I altered the recipe a bit to make it a little healthier. It made 6 dozen small cookies.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 (15-oz) can pure pumpkin
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and both sugars in large mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract; mix well. Add in flour mixture. Stir in raisins. Drop by rounded teaspoons (for smaller cookies) or tablespoons (for bigger cookies) onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for ~12 min for smaller, 14-16 min for bigger cookies - until set in center. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

The grocery bakery often has this kind of cookie, and I always buy them when I see them. I found this recipe and tweaked it a bit so I could make my own! This makes 6 dozen cookies - but they won't last long. ;)

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree
4 cups flour
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.

In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, eggs, and canned pumpkin puree. Once smooth, add baking soda, cinnamon, pie spice, and salt. Slowly add flour until dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on cooling rack before serving. (These were MUCH better after cooled - otherwise the chocolate was too gooey.)

My Favorite Cornbread

This cornbread was so moist & delicious! Even my dad, who isn't a fan of cornbread, LOVED it! This would be perfect with a big pot of chili. :)

2 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and milk; let stand 10 minutes. Grease a 9x13 baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix in the cornmeal mixture, eggs, and oil until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicken Florentine Skillet

I saw this recipe in a little Betty Crocker magazine and thought it sounded delicious. I changed it up a bit to suit my family, and also to stretch it for a second meal for my freezer. Since my family can't eat an entire box of pasta (and I don't like half boxes sitting in my pantry), I put it in a casserole dish with some extra cheese on top & freeze. So easy to pop it in the oven another night for a quick & easy dinner!

16 oz mini farfalle pasta
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
4 tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp butter
1 lb chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 (6 oz) bag fresh spinach leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir 1/2 cup of the half-and-half, the flour, salt, and nutmeg until smooth; set aside.

In a large pot (I like my dutch oven), melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. Cook about 5 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Reduce heat to low. Stir in pasta and half-and-half mixture. Cook about 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in remaining 2 cups half-and-half. Sprinkle cheese over top. Cover; let stand 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.

Minestrone Soup

I love to make soups once the weather turns cold. This one was a bonus, as the crockpot does the cooking for me! My whole family loved this soup - my kids especially liked the little pasta. I liked that the veggies were still a little crisp. You might want to have more broth on hand for the leftovers (there's plenty!). This soup will freeze well too.

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-oz) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves
salt and ground black pepper
2 cups cooked ditalini pasta
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
parmesan cheese (shredded or grated)

In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW 6-8 hours or HIGH 3-4 hours.

Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini, and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tomato Florentine Soup

This recipe came from *my favorite* a Cuisine at Home book. It's not hard and oh, so yummy! I think it's best topped with homemade croutons, but store-bought would work as well :-)

1/2 c. chopped shallots
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped garlic
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 cans whole tomatoes in juice (28 oz. each)
2 c. chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/4 c. fresh basil
3 T. sugar
2 t. balsamic vinegar
1 bag (5 oz.) baby spinach, chopped
Crumbled blue cheese

1. Sweat shallots in oil in a large pot over medium heat until soft, about 5 min. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes, and cook 1 minute

2. Deglaze pot with wine, simmer until nearly evaporated, then add tomatoes, broth, and basil. Increase heat to med-high, bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to med-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Puree soup with a handheld blender, or in batches in a food processor, until smooth. Bring soup to a simmer.

4. Stir in sugar and vinegar. Just before serving, stir in spinach and season with salt and pepper.

5. Garnish each serving of soup with croutons and blue cheese.

Quick and Easy Crab Bisque

Crab bisque sounds exquisite, but this recipe takes only a half hour to make and is SO flavorful! Although it's "quick and easy," though, it's not very cheap to make. Pasteurized lump crab meat can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery close to the fish counter. I got it on sale, but it was still $15. This recipe is FANTASTIC!

2 c. diced leeks
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
2 T. minced garlic
2 T. olive oil
4 T. flour
1/2 c. dry white wine
3 c. heavy cream
3 c. milk
2 bottles clam juice (8 oz. each)
Salt, black pepper, and hot sauce to taste (I used quite a bit of each)
1 1/4 c. pasteurized lump crab meat
Minced fresh chives

1. Sweat leeks, carrot, celery, and garlic in oil in a large pot over medium heat until carrot is soft. Add flour and cook for another minute

2. Deglaze pot with wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Stir in cream, milk, and clam juice. Bring to a boil and season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Puree soup in batches using a food processor. Stir in crabmeat and serve. Top with fresh chives.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Caesar Dressing and Croutons

3 c. sourdough bread cubes (1/2 in.)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. EACH kosher salt, black pepper, dried basil, and paprika
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice, strained
2 T. mayonnaise
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. anchovy paste
1 t. sugar
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. olive oil

Toast bread cubes in olive oil over med-high heat until lightly browned, toss with salt, pepper, basil, and paprika.

In a food processor, combine shredded cheese, lemon juice, mayo, garlic, anchovy paste, sugar and Worcestershire. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss dressing with 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped, and garnish with croutons and shaved Parmesan.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This was inspired by a turkey and mushroom enchilada casserole, but it became quite different and needed its own recipe. It can easily be divided into smaller casserole sizes, just cut back on the cooking times. I usually make two smaller casseroles and freeze the second one. It makes for a great freezer meal!

14 CORN tortillas
1 28oz. can of Green enchilada sauce, Medium spicy
1 lb. ground chicken
1 packet taco seasoning (I recommend Taco Bell brand)
1 small can diced green chiles
1/2 cup water
8 oz. mexican blend shredded cheese.

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown chicken, drain. Add green chiles, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer for about 5 -10 minutes.

In 9 x 13 dish, pour just enough of the sauce to cover the bottom.

Layer 6-7 corn tortillas along the bottom. Spoon meat mixture over top, using a spatula, pat down so it's as flat and compact as can be. Top with remaining tortillas and pour over the rest of the enchilada sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for about 35 -40 min, then remove foil, sprinkle cheese over top and broil on LOW for 5-10 min...till cheese on top is bubbly and starting to brown.

Let stand for about 10 min. before cutting.

Fried Eggplant Mozzarella

I tried a dish like this at a restaurant and I had to try and copy it! The results were nearly perfect and this is one of my new favorite dishes. The key is to use the Stove-Top Marinara (recipe is in the next entry).

1 eggplant
1 c. flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1/4 c. olive oil
Sliced fresh mozzarella (about 10 oz.)
Red pepper flakes
Stove-Top Marinara (see blog entry for recipe)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Slice eggplant into 1/4 in. thick rounds, season with salt and pepper. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into separate shallow dishes.

2. Bread the eggplant by dipping it first in flour, then eggs, the breadcrumbs.

3. Heat 1/4 c. olive oil in a large saute pan (I used an electric skillet) over med. high heat. Fry half of the eggplant slices until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes total, then transfer them to a cookie sheet. Continue until all eggplant are cooked.

4. Top each slice with a slice of fresh mozzarella and red pepper flakes. Bake until cheese melts, about 15 minutes.

5. To serve, put about 1/2 c. Stove-Top Marinara on a plate and top with the eggplant rounds. Serve with pasta topped with marinara.

Stove-Top Marinara

This spaghetti sauce is SO good! I don't know if I can ever go back to canned sauce! The best part is that I almost always have these ingredients on hand, so I can make it any time I want. I would also recommend using this for my Fried Eggplant Mozzarella.

1 c. diced onion
3 T. olive oil
2 T. minced garlic
2 cans (28 oz. each) whole tomatoes
1 1/2 T. sugar
2 t. dried basil leaves
1/4 t. red pepper flakes (more or less depending on the desired spiciness)
1/2 t. ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste (I used quite a bit)

1. Saute onion in oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; saute briefly. Stir in tomatoes with their juice. Crush tomatoes with a potato masher and simmer sauce for 15 minutes.

2. Stir in sugar, basil, peppers, and season with salt. Simmer 15 minutes longer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mushroom and Herb Risotto

This was a very tasty risotto, but extremely time intensive. I will definitely make it again, but only on special occasions! To save on the cost, I bought dehydrated shitakes and boiled them in the chicken broth to rehydrate. After they cooled, I cut them and sauteed them with the other mushrooms.

1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved (reserve stems)
1/2 lb. button mushrooms, quartered
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 T. minced garlic
6 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 c. dry white wine, divided
Kosher salt and pepper to taste.
6 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c. minced shallots
2 c. dry arborio rice (DO NOT substitute rice types!)
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 T. unsalted butter
Crumbled chevre (goat cheese)

1. Saute shiitake, button, and cremini mushrooms and garlic in 3 T. oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Deglaze pan with 1/2 c. wine, simmering until liquid evaporates. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper; transfer them to a bowl.

2. Simmer broth and reserved shiitake stems in a saucepan for 10 minutes. Strain broth; discard stems. Keep broth warm over low heat.

3. Saute shallots in remaining 3 T. oil over medium heat in the same saute pan used for the mushrooms. Cook until shallots are soft but not brown, 3-4 minutes.

4. Stir in rice; cook 1-2 minutes to coat grains with oil. Add remaining 1/2 c. wine; simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 c. broth; simmer until it's completely absorbed. Continue adding broth in 1/2 c. increments, stirring frequently and adding more broth only after the previous addition is absorbed.

5. Taste rice after cooking it for 15 minutes. Continue cooking until rice is firm but not chalky in the center. Remove risotto from heat.

6. Stir in mushrooms, Parmesan, parsley, chives, thyme, butter, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle risotto with chevre before serving.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick & Easy Cinnamon-Swirl Coffee Cake

I found this recipe on the Kraft website & had to try it. It was so easy to make, and the whole family devoured it! Feel free to leave off the nuts if you don't care for them.

1 (3.4 oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cans (7.5 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350. Sprinkle half each of the dry pudding mix and nuts onto bottom of fluted tube pan sprayed with cooking spray; set aside.

Mix cinnamon and brown sugar. Separate dough into 20 biscuits. Place 10 biscuits in pan, with sides slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with remaining dry pudding mix, nuts, and half the cinnamon-sugar. Drizzle with half the butter. Top with remaining biscuits, cinnamon-sugar and butter.

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 min in pan; invert onto serving platter. Serve warm.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bolognese Rigatoni

I made this dish for some guests this evening and everyone LOVED it! We each had seconds and some had more than that! It is meaty and so flavorful. It takes a while to cook, so make a double batch to freeze.

1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage (I actually used regular instead of Italian)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 cup EACH chopped onion, celery, and carrot
1 T. chopped garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
1 c. dry red wine
1 c. whole milk
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. dried basil (or 1 T. fresh basil, chopped)
1 t. dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much spice you like)
1 lb. dry rigatoni
1/2 c. mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1 c. chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown chuck and sausage in oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Make the meat as fine as possible by using a potato masher. Drain fat; return meat to pan.

2. Mince onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in a food processor. Add vegetables to browned meat; cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes, wine, milk, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer sauce 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4. Cook rigatoni according to package directions; drain and set it aside.

5. Add mascarpone, parsley, salt, and pepper to sauce. Serve over rigatoni.

Kongnamul (Korean Soybean Sprouts)

1 bag soybean sprouts
2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1 t. sugar

Boil sprouts for 2-3 minutes. Drain and combine with other ingredients in a sealed container. Shake until well mixed and refrigerate for at least one hour. Shake before serving.

Yukgae Jang (Spicy Korean Beef Soup)

1 lb. beef brisket or stew beef
1 onion, chopped
12 green onions
5 c. mung bean sprouts
2 T. garlic, minced
1/4 c. hot pepper flakes (found at the Asian market, different than crushed red pepper flakes)
2 T. Sesame Oil
1 T. Vegetable oil
2 T. Soy sauce
1 T. salt
Ground pepper
2 eggs (beaten)
Mung Bean noodles

Boil beef and onions in 10 c. water for 40-50 minutes. Meanwhile, combine hot pepper flakes, sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over garlic, green onions, and sprouts and mix together. Remove beef and cut into small pieces and add the vegetable mixture to the pot. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add chopped beef, egg, and mung bean noodles and cook for a few more minutes. (Note: I prefer to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bottom of the bowl)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Caprese Pasta

If you like caprese salad, you have to try this pasta! It is SO good that my husband and two little guys finished off the entire thing! The most important thing is to be sure all the ingredients are fresh and ripe. Be sure you use FRESH mozzarella that comes in a soft white ball, packed in water in vacuum-sealed plastic or in a plastic tub. The result is fantastic!

3 c. diced fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste (be sure to use a good amount of salt!)
8 oz. spaghetti
2 t. minced garlic OR 1 T. sliced garlic
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Combine tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; set mixture aside.

2.Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain and toss with tomato-cheese mixture.

3. Saute garlic in oil in a large saute pan until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour hot oil over spaghetti mixture; toss to coat all ingredients.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken and Udon Noodles

I LOVE udon noodles and wanted to find a good recipe. I didn't find anything that suited my fancy, so I made up my own. I also cooked some chicken in the pan ahead of time, which added flavor to the sauce and added some protein to the dish. It's so easy and so delicious!

1 T. vegetable oil
1 carrot, diced
2 scallions, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
2 t. minced garlic
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 t. dried ginger (or 1 T. minced fresh ginger)
1/4 c. plus 1 T. sesame oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced
1 pkg. (12 oz) udon noodles, cooked and strained

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot, scallions, and garlic and saute until vegetables start to soften. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, mushrooms, and pepper flakes. Simmer until flavors combine, about 3-5 minutes. Toss with udon noodles and serve.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Upside-Down Pizza

I got the recipe from Robin Miller, and adapted it a bit to suit my family's taste. It was oh-so-good, and my whole family gobbled it up! I'm putting the recipe with the "toppings" we used, but feel free to substitute your favorites.

1 lb sausage (I used sage since we don't like Italian)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup pizza sauce
16 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat large skillet over medium heat, adding a bit of olive oil if needed to cook sausage. Add sausage and cook until browned and cooked through, breaking up the meat as it cooks with a wooden spoon. Add the onion halfway through cooking, then add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes, until soft. Add pasta sauce and pizza sauce and bring to a simmer, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer sauce to the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and oil until blended. Whisk in flour and salt until well blended. Pour mixture over sauce in pan. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

I got this recipe from Ellie Krieger on Food Network. It's a delicious way to serve your vegetables! So easy to make and so good!

cooking spray
2 medium zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25-30 minutes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainbow Rotini

This was a quick and easy lunch (or perfect for dinner if it's just the kiddos & me), and it packs a lot of protein. So delicious too! I got it from Parents magazine and adapted it a bit.

6 oz dried multicolor rotini
12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, saute chicken (seasoned with some salt & pepper) in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through, adding garlic about halfway through cooking. Once chicken is cooked, add the remaining ingredients; heat through. Stir in pasta and serve.

(You can also saute 1/2 cup chopped red onion with the chicken.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lighter Caesar Salad

I *love* Caesar salad, and can feel good eating this homemade version.

1 large head romaine lettuce
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemon, halved
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
garlic croutons

Wash romaine under cold running water. Trim core, and separate stalk into leaves; discard wilted or discolored portions. Shake leaves to remove moisture. Cut coarse ribs from large leaves; tear leaves into bite-size pieces and place in large salad bowl.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, and garlic in a jar. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Pour dressing over romaine; toss gently until coated. Squeeze juice from lemon halves over salad. Grind a generous amount of pepper over salad; sprinkle with cheese. Toss, top with garlic croutons and serve.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ham & Swiss Quiche

1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese
4 t all-purpose flour
1/2 c cooked ham, diced
3 eggs
1 c milk
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground dry mustard
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
2 T chopped fresh parsley (optional for garnish)

In medium bowl, toss 4 teaspoons flour with the grated cheese. Sprinkle mixture into the pie shell. On top of cheese, sprinkle 1/2 cup of diced ham.

In medium bowl, combine eggs, milk or cream, and then add salt and mustard powder. Beat until smooth and pour over cheese and ham.

Put piece of plastic wrap large enough to overlap sides over top of quiche, then a piece of foil, and seal well around the edges. (plastic keeps the foil from sticking to the food). Place prepared quiche in freezer.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove foil and plastic wrap. Put foil around edge of crust to protect it from burning. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until filling is set and crust is golden brown.

Orange Apricot Pork Chops

In addition to being delicious, this recipe smells AMAZING as it cooks! :)

6 pork chops (medium thickness, bone-in or boneless)
1 cup apricot jam
3 T brown sugar
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges (needed on-hand for serving day)
Place all ingredients in large freezer bag. Mix well, remove air, & freeze.
Serving Day: Thaw completely in fridge. Pour contents of bag into slow cooker. Add the entire can of mandarin oranges (with juice!) evenly over the top. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Serve with rice to soak up the yummy juice.

Bacon Ranch Slow-cooker Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T Baco's bacon flavor bits
1 t minced garlic
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 10.75 oz can condensed cream of chicken soup (healthy version is fine)
1 c light sour cream

1 lb egg noodles (on hand for serving day)

Cooking Day:
1. Combine the first 5 ingredients
2. Place chicken in freezer bag and pour sauce over top
3. Seal and freeze

Serving Day:
1. Empty bag (which has been thawed completely in fridge) into slow cooker.
2. Cook on high 4-5 hours
3. Serve over hot egg noodles.

Cookies & Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 oz) tub whipped topping, thawed
1 cup finely crushed Oreo cookies
1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inches)

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream and pudding mix; beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Let stand for 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping and cookies. Spoon into crust. Cover with plastic lid (should be included on a commercially prepared crust), wrap with foil if desired. Freeze until firm, about 6 hours or overnight. May be frozen for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

I had some fresh tomatoes from a friend and had always wanted to try making stuffed tomatoes. I looked up a few recipes, then created my own based on our tastes and what I had available. They turned out great! (My kids aren't huge tomato fans, but they loved the filling.)

8 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
~1 lb ground beef
2 slices bacon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
2 cups uncooked instant rice (I used brown rice)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used parmesan-cheddar would be good too)
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp water

Slightly cut the bottoms of the tomatoes so they stand upright. Cut out the stem, making a hole in the top of the tomato. Leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell, scoop out and reserve the pulp. Place tomatoes in either a 9x13 baking dish or a baking sheet with tall sides.

In a skillet over med-high heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced onions, bacon, and garlic; once mixed and started cooking, add the ground beef. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Once cooked, drain off extra grease if necessary. Add about 1-1.5 cups of the tomato pulp and the sugar to the meat mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and summer 35-40 minutes, until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. (I tasted here and did add a bit more salt.) Add rice; mix well. Simmer 5-6 minutes longer or until rice starts to get tender. Stuff the tomatoes when mixture is done.

Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and butter, then top the tomatoes. Add some water to the baking dish/sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Bananas Foster

I read a few recipes for this yummy dessert and then created my own recipe. It turned out great! Enjoy :-)

2 T. butter
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 T. banana liqueur
2 slightly unripe bananas, peeled and cut into thick slices
1/4 c. spiced rum


Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium low heat. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in banana liqueur. Add bananas and cook about 2 minutes until bananas are warm and coated. Carefully add rum and light on fire. Cook another minute or until fire goes out. Serve over ice cream or cake.

Chicken Gumbo

I tried out this recipe for chicken gumbo tonight and LOVED it! It uses a large variety of spices, but they're all pretty common-- I had all of them in my spice cabinet. I tweaked some of the spices to make it extra flavorful, and I made a double batch so I would have some freezer meals. Be sure to serve this over rice... it's delicious!

2 t. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2 in pieces
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. cayenne (I used 1/8 t. and it was perfect)
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
1 10oz pkg. frozen sliced okra
2 links andouille sausage (I used a pkg. of smoked sausage), diced
4 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
2 c. tomato juice
Rice (for serving)


1. Heat oil in a large pot over med. high heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until softened.

2. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides.

3. Add all the spices and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute until the spices are fragrant, then add the okra, sausage, broth, and tomato juice and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until cooked through. (I let it simmer for an additional 15 minutes to give the flavors more time to develop.

4. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.

Spaghetti Marinara and Meatballs

Wow! This is an AWESOME recipe. The marinara sauce is composed entirely of fresh vegetables roasted in the oven with drippings from the meatballs. The meatballs are moist and SO flavorful! I recommend doubling the marinara recipe with a single batch of meatballs. Enjoy :-)

For the marinara:
3 1b. fresh cherry or Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 c. chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T. fresh chopped basil

For the meatballs:
1 c. fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. beef broth
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs, beaten
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. minced garlic
2 t. dried basil
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
sprinkle of red pepper (optional)
2 lb. ground beef sirloin

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine tomatoes, onion, smashed garlic, sugar, 1 t. salt, 1 t. pepper, and red pepper flakes for marinara in an 11x15 in. baking dish (I used two 11x13 baking dishes and put this much in each dish to double the sauce).

3. Mix together in a large bowl the meatball ingredients minus the sirloin. Add the ground sirloin and combine well.

4. Shape meat mixture into balls the size of a golf ball (about 2 oz. each).

5. Arrange meatballs on vegetable mixture in baking dish; roast for 40-45 min.

6. Remove meatballs from baking dish; keep them warm. Process roasted tomato mixture in batches in a food processor or blender. Stir in basil, add to meatballs. Serve over spaghetti and garnish with Parmesan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sausage Crescent Rolls

If you've been to any mom's nights with Jenni, you've probably enjoyed this amazing appetizer! She's sharing the recipe with all of us, so here it is:

Yields: 20 Servings


1 pound fresh ground spicy pork sausage
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium skillet, lightly brown sausage and drain. While sausage is still hot, add cream cheese and stir until cheese is melted and mixture is creamy. Cool completely.
3. Separate crescent rolls and arrange into two rectangles. Form log of sausage mixture lengthwise down center of each rectangle. Fold over the long sides of pastry to cover sausage log. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, seam down. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
4. Bake 20 minutes until crust is golden. When completely cooled, slice into one and one-half inch slices.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Creole Shrimp

This is a recipe I adapted to be freezer-friendly. If you want to make it tonight, simply have your shrimp thawed. It is pretty spicy, but to cut down on the spice do not cook in the juices. My kids loved it!

1 lb frozen uncooked cleaned large shrimp
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup Italian dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced (~2 tsp)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (for after you cook)

Combine shrimp, dressing, seasoning, and garlic in a freezer bag. Remove the air, seal, and freeze.

To Cook: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add ~1 tbsp olive oil and butter. Add shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes until done. Top with parsley, if desired.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Potato Chip Chocolate Toffee

It may sound crazy, but it's oh so good! I got this recipe from the May 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine. It's easy and quick (just allow time for it to cool). The only tricky part is not burning the caramel. Enjoy!

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheet
5 c. potato chips
1 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
5 oz. bitterweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Line a baking sheet with foil and butter the foil. Set 1 cup potato chips aside.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and vinegar in a saucepan until the mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, about 10 min. Remove from the heat and stir in the 4 c. chips, then immediately pour onto the baking sheet and spread in a thin layer. Gently press the reserved 1 c. chips on top of the toffee and let cool.

3. Put about 3/4 of the chocolate in a microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave 30 sec. Stir, then continue to microwave in 30 sec. intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until smooth.

4. Drizzle the chocolate over the toffee. Set aside to harden, about 30 minutes. Break the toffee into pieces.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spicy Braised Cabbage

This is a delicious Tanzanian dish and goes well served alongside the coconut rice and kuku ya paka. I usually mix them all together as I'm eating. If it's too spicy, cut down on the amount of cayenne pepper.

1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. butter
1 T. vegetable oil
1 head of cabbage, chopped
1 t. salt
1/2-1 t. curry powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. powdered ginger
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. paprika

Heat oil and butter over med. high heat until butter is melted. Saute onion, garlic, and cabbage until soft. Season with salt, curry powder, garlic powder, ginger, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Serve with kuku ya paka and coconut rice.

Coconut Rice

This is a simple recipe and goes great with the Kuku Ya Paka, or any curry dish. It adds a sweet and hearty flavor to plain white rice.

2 c. uncooked rice
1 can lite coconut milk

Cook rice according to package directions, using coconut milk and water instead of just the water. Add a couple dashes of salt.

Kuku Ya Paka (Coconut Curry Chicken)

This is a Tanzanian dish and is very yummy! It's got a lot of spice, but it's actually pretty mild. This dish is best served with the Spicy Braised Cabbage and Coconut Rice. Delicious!

1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. chicken, chopped
1 T. vegetable oil
1 can coconut milk
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 T. curry
1 t. paprika
1/2 t. ground ginger (optional)
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in large skillet over med. high heat. Saute onion, garlic, and chicken (seasoned with salt and pepper) until chicken is cooked through.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, and green pepper. Season with curry, paprika, and ginger. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until veggies are soft (about 10 minutes). Add coconut milk and let simmer two more minutes. Salt to taste.

3. Serve over coconut rice with spicy braised cabbage.

Kimchi Bokumbop (Korean Stir-fry)

Looking for something spicy and delicious? This is the dish for you! My friend Tanya gave me the basic outline for this dish, and I figured out some measurements that worked well for us. Feel free to adjust the sauce or change the vegetables. If you don't like kimchi, you might like it hot in this stir-fry, or you can leave it out. The kimchi and gojujang sauce will probably need to be purchased at an Asian market. I go to Saraga by the Kroger's on College Mall in Bloomington. This dish is SO delicious!

3 c. uncooked short-grain rice (I used sushi rice, but you can use any)
1-2 c. Kimchi
1 lb. diced chicken (breasts or thighs)
2 zucchini
1 medium onion
2 cloves mince garlic
1-2 T. gojujang sauce (I added 1 T.)
2 T. sesame oil
1 T. vegetable oil
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. honey

1. Start rice in rice cooker or on the stove according to package directions.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and saute in large skillet (I used an electric skillet because this makes a big batch) until cooked through.

3. Add garlic, onions, and zucchini. Cook for about 3 minutes then add kimchi and cook all vegetables until medium soft.

4. Add 2 T. soy sauce, gojujang sauce, 2 T. sesame oil, and 1 T. honey.

4. Add the rice, mix, and serve.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mediterranean Pasta Toss

I created this pasta dish based on one of my favorite dishes at a local noodle restaurant. It is perfect for the summer with plenty of veggies and a very light sauce. I was surprised that my husband LOVED it as well, especially since it uses fresh tomatoes. I will definitely be making this again!

1 lb. penne pasta
1 T. Olive Oil
1 T. Butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, cut into loose wedges
1 small pkg. fresh spinach
1 small pkg. (10.5 oz) grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c. white wine
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 small pkg. crumbled feta cheese


1. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over med. high heat. Add oil and butter. Heat until melted, then add the garlic and onion. Cook until onions start to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach cooks down. Add salt (about 1 tsp, or to taste) and black pepper.

3. Add white wine and simmer until sauce cooks down, about 5-10 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with vegetables and sauce.

4. Serve on plates and top with crumbled feta.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Honey BBQ Ribs

3 lbs boneless pork ribs
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c ketchup
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 c honey
1/4 c spicy brown mustard
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 T liquid smoke

Place all ingredients in a large zippered freezer bag. Remove excess air, seal & freeze.
Serving Day: Thaw completely in fridge. Place pork ribs & sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, then reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3 hours. Serve on hoagie rolls or with cornbread.

Oriental Chicken Casserole

2 3/4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 small can of mushrooms, drained or 1 cup of fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 - 2 1/2 T soy sauce
1/2 cup cashews
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 t dried onion
1 3/4 cups crunchy chow mein noodles, divided

Place 1 cup of chow mein noodles in the bottom of your baking dish (8x8, sprayed w/ oil). In a large bowl combine all other ingredients except for the remaining 3/4 cup of chow mein noodles. Mix until combined. Sprinkle remaining chow mein noodles on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until done. Cool completely & cover with foil, then freeze.

Serving Day: Thaw completely in fridge. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Balsamic Tomato Chicken Packets

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1/2" thick
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 c instant rice, uncooked
3c warm water
2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5), drained
4 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp EACH oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary

Season chicken with garlic salt & black pepper. In a separate bowl, mix drained tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, & herbs. In another bowl, mix rice and water; spoon onto centers of 6 large sheets of heavy duty foil. Top with chicken & then spoon equal parts tomato/herb mixture on top. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. If freezing, place in freezer bags.

To Cook: (Thaw in fridge before cooking.) Heat oven to 400. Place foil packets on baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes or until chicken is done (165*). Remove packets from oven; let stand 5 min.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Orange Frost

My kids and I *love* smoothies! We had breakfast for dinner and made this "orange frost" instead of having the traditional orange juice. It was a big hit! My husband compared it to an orange julius. (I doubled the recipe when I made it.)

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
6-oz frozen orange juice concentrate
8 ice cubes (I used a couple handfuls of ice)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in order in a blender. Blend for about 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth and foamy. Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vanilla Creme Brulee

I LOVE creme brulee and this is a great recipe. I don't recommend it for novice cooks, as you do need to have the right equipment to make this yummy dessert (food processor, ramekins, kitchen torch, etc.) and a few skills in the kitchen. My kids had fun helping me with a few parts of the recipe, although it is a little complicated. They especially loved watching me carmelize the sugar on top.

1/2 vanilla bean, chopped into 1/4 in. pieces
2 T. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. half and half
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
Creme Brulee sugar (see below)

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees
*Pulverize vanilla bean and 2 T. sugar in a coffee grinder.
*Warm cream, half and half, and vanilla sugar in a saucepan over medium heat just until steam rises.
*Whisk yolks, egg, 1/4 c. sugar, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Temper hot cream mixture into eggs, strain into a measuring cup with a pour spout and divide among six 4oz oven-proof ramekins. Arrange dishes in a baking pan, then carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Add hot water to the pan and bake custards 35-45 min, or until just set; do not overcook.
*Remove ramekins from the water bath, cool, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap. Chill until completely cold, preferably overnight.
*Carmelize each custard before serving by burning sugar on top.

Creme Brulee Sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar

Combine both sugars, then spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. After baking the brulees, turn off the oven and place the pan inside for an hour to dry out the sugar.

Transfer sugar to a food processor and pulverize until fine. Store in an airtight container until ready to carmelize.

1. Blot top of custards dry with a paper towel, if needed. Sprinkle 1-2 T. sugar mixture over each one; tap out any excess sugar.

2. Using a kitchen or propane torch, melt the sugar by waving the flame 4-8" from the surface.

3. Burn until surface of the custard is carmelized and no dry sugar is visible. Let stand 3-5 min. before serving.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Taco Seasoning Mix

Put in quart storage bag (or small storage container):
4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Makes ~4 tbsp... Use 1 tbsp per 1 lb ground meat, more or less to your liking.

Sesame-Cheese Dip

Place in quart storage bag (or small storage container):
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp celery seed
3/8 tsp black pepper
3/8 tsp garlic powder

Combine 1 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp mix. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. (I like to serve with mini tortilla chips.)

Store in cool, dry place or in refrigerator.

Muffin Mix

Place in gallon storage bag:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Needed to make muffins:
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
your favorite "filling"**

Grease twelve muffin cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside. Put mixture into medium bowl and make a well in the center; set aside. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in your favorite "filling".**

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes; remove from muffin cups.

- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (add 2 tbsp additional sugar to mix)
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds (add 3 tbsp additional sugar to mix)

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits Mix

Place in a gallon storage bag:
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

Needed to make biscuits:
3/4 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening)
1-1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whipping cream

Put mix in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk and whipping cream all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Remove biscuits from baking sheet and serve immediately. Makes 12 biscuits.

Chicken Noodle Soup Mix

Place in gallon storage bag:
~1 cup uncooked fine egg noodles
1-1/2 tbsp chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 bay leaf

Needed to make soup:
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup minced onion
3 cups cooked diced chicken

Empty the soup mix from the jar into large stockpot and add 8 cups of water. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, stir in the chicken, and simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Italian Stuffed Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (~2 tsp)
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 tbsp celery, finely diced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce
milk, if needed

1/2 cup ricotta cheese (low fat)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp dried parsley

Serving day:
1/2 -1 cup tomato or spaghetti sauce

Meat mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine breadbrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, celery, Italian seasoning, basil, cheese, and ground beef. After combined, make a well in the center. Break the egg into this well; add Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. With a fork, quickly beat the egg and sauces together in the well. Using either your hands or a large spoon, mix eggs and meat together until well combined. If mixture seems too dry, add a little milk -- or one more beaten egg -- to the meat mixture.

For filling: In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and parsley. Mix together and set aside.

To assemble: Divide the meat mixture into two equal parts. Press half the meat mixture into a loaf pan. Pressing down with your fingers or the back of a spoon, create a shallow "ditch" down the middle of the meat mixture. Spread the ricotta filling mixture into the ditch, leaving about a 1.5 inch border of meat all around. Press the other half of the meat mixture into the loaf pan, pushing down around the outside edges to help seal the filling. Cover with foil and freeze.

Serving day: Thaw meatloaf. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, then spoon off any extra grease, if necessary. Pour 1/2 -1 cup of your favorite tomato or spaghetti sauce on top of the meatloaf and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.

** For additional flavor, you can add 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms and/or 1 tbsp sundried tomatoes to the filling.

Chocolate Decadence Freezer Pie

1 pkg (4-oz) Baker's German's sweet chocolate
1/3 cup milk, divided
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups (8-oz) thawed whipped topping
1 (6 oz) chocolate graham crust

Microwave chocolate and 2 tbsp of milk in large microwaveable bowl on high 1-1/2 to 2 min or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after each minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add cream cheese, sugar, and remaining milk; beat with wire whisk until well blended. Add whipped topping; stir gently until well blended. Spoon into crust.

Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Let stand at room temperature or in refrigerator about 10 min or until pie can be cut easily. Store in freezer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

I made this as a side dish for dinner and my whole family loved it -- especially my kids! You could easily use less butter, or sub some olive oil for the butter (half & half) to cut some fat & calories. It was really garlicky, but I loved that!

2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
3 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp dried parsley (or 2 tbsp minced fresh)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cook orzo pasta according to pasta directions; drain. In same pot, saute garlic in butter until tender. Add the orzo, parmesan cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tuscan Chicken Simmer

I got this recipe from Kraft Foods and thought it sounded great. I was right! My kids aren't big tomato fans, so I cut down on those -- but I loved how they "popped" open in my mouth. :) My husband loved this as well, and my kids really liked the chicken and sauce.

4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (~1 lb)
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pesto
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded Italian five-cheese blend

Heat large nonstick skillet to med-high and coat with olive oil. Add chicken; cover. Cook 5-7 min on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet; cover to keep warm.

Add cream cheese, water, pesto, and tomatoes to skillet. Cook, uncovered, on medium heat 2 min or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Return chicken to skillet. Cook and stir 1 min or until chicken is coated and heated through. Sprinkle with cheese.

Asian Chicken Wraps

This was such a light and easy meal to make. I was unsure how my kids would like it, but they LOVED it! My older son (5 yr old) asked for seconds! It won't keep well as leftovers, but we ate almost everything. :)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-in pieces
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 oz neufchatel or cream cheese
4 cups coleslaw blend
1/2 cup Kraft Asian toasted sesame dressing
1/3 cup lightly salted cocktail peanuts
flour tortillas (or big lettuce leaves)

Cook and stir chicken and peppers in a large nonstick skillet (in a little olive oil) on medium-high heat 6-8 minutes or until chicken is done. Add neufchatel; cook 2 min or until melted, stirring frequently.

Toss coleslaw blend with dressing in large bowl. Add chicken mixture and nuts; mix lightly.

Spoon chicken mixture down centers of tortillas; roll up. Cut in half.

**Recipe from LoveMyPhilly website

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers

These were amazing! I couldn't even tell I was eating a pepper because of how this cooked together. My kids didn't eat too much of the pepper, but they LOVED the filling. :)

3 green bell peppers
7 tbsp uncooked long-grain white rice
1-1.5 lbs ground chuck
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1/3 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8-oz can tomato sauce
~1 cup mild chunky salsa
1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove stems and seeds. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Plunge peppers into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain well.

Pour tomato sauce into bottom of pan. Place pepper halves in pan on top of sauce. In a very large bowl, gently combine the rice, ground chuck, cumin, oregano, onion, salt, and pepper. Do not compress meat while mixing. Fill each pepper half with some of the mixture. Spoon some of the salsa over each pepper half. Sprinkle each with some of the cheese. Cover casserole with foil.

To serve immediately: Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until peppers are tender and meat is cooked through.

To freeze: Wrap with saran wrap and foil. To serve, thaw in refrigerator overnight, then remove saran wrap (recover with foil). Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Spinach Lasagna with Pesto and Cheese

I found this recipe on the back of a shredded cheese bag and had to try it (this is my altered version). My whole family loved it, with my 5-year old raving about with every bite! It is delicious with some added shredded chicken and sauteed mushrooms. Yum!

jar chunky spaghetti sauce (~3 cups)
15-oz ricotta cheese
1 large egg
8-oz package prepared basil pesto
10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup parmesan cheese
pkg no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups Italian blend or mozzarella cheese

Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a bit of pasta sauce in bottom of dish. In a bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, egg, pesto, spinach, and parmesan cheese until thoroughly blended. Layer noodles, 1/3 of the ricotta/pesto/spinach mixture, 1/4 of the mozzarella, and some pasta sauce. Repeat layers two more times. Finish with a layer of noodles, pasta sauce, and cheese.

If freezing, cover in press-n-seal and foil. At least partially thaw before baking (you will need to add cooking time).

To cook: Preheat oven to 350 and bake for ~one hour covered. Uncover and bake to brown cheese on top.

Bourbon Chicken

This was a good and simple recipe! It made a nice little stir-fry with some veggies added in, or maybe some steamed broccoli on the side. I served it over some brown rice.

2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 garlic clove, minced (~1 tsp)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4-3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce

To cook:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cornstarch

Add all ingredients to ziploc bag to marinate or freeze. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight before cooking.

To cook: Heat oil in pan and add mixture. Cook until chicken is browned, then remove chicken. Remove about 1/4 cup of the liquid and mix with the cornstarch until dissolved. (You can also mix the cornstarch with water if you prefer.) Add the chicken back and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 min.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup

This recipe (from Cooking for Real on the Food Network) is very easy to make, but it does take some time. I doubled the recipe, then cooled the leftovers in the fridge. Once cooled, I put it into freezer bags and laid them flat in the freezer with a paper towel in between each bag. Now I have homemade tomato soup ready whenever I want! It's super healthy and delicious! The only things I would recommend changing is straining the soup after it is blended, and adding red pepper flakes if you like spice. Enjoy!

* 8 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
* 2 red peppers, quartered and seeded
* 1 medium onion, quartered
* 8 cloves garlic
* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
* 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
* 6 cups vegetable stock
* 1/4 cup loosely packed chiffonade basil leaves


Special Equipment: Blender or immersion blender

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a sheet pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, thyme, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the tomatoes and red peppers, skin side up, and bake until lightly charred, 45 to 50 minutes. In a soup pot, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the tomato paste and mix well. Add the tomato and pepper mixture, including the juices, and combine. Stir in the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender* (or use an immersion blender) and pulse in small batches that reach only about a third to halfway up the side of the jar. Be careful to start slow then increase the speed to blitz the ingredients until smooth. Use a separate bowl to hold the blended soup and then return it all to the pot.

Heat the soup to warm through, then ladle into serving bowls and garnish with basil.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Peanut Butter Pancakes

I got this recipe from Sunny Anderson on the Food Network. It is SO good, and super-easy! I didn't use the syrup recipe, but rather some raspberry syrup I had in the fridge. Unfortunately, my son doesn't like peanut butter so I don't know how often I will fix them. If it were up to me, these would be the only pancakes I would make! I was thinking they would also be delicious topped with bananas and honey, or adding in mini chocolate chips to the batter. Give them a try!

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed to thin
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 4 tablespoons butter
* Blackberry Syrup, recipe follows


Preheat a griddle. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Slowly mix in egg, milk, peanut butter and oil until combined. Add a little extra milk if batter feels too thick. Let mixture sit 5 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter on griddle and move around to coat entire griddle. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake on griddle to form 5-inch pancakes. The batter spreads as it cooks. Fill griddle without crowding pancakes. Flip when air pockets start to pop on the top and a quick peak on the underside reveals a golden pancake. Repeat with remaining butter and batter. Serve pancakes with Blackberry Syrup.

Blackberry Syrup:
* 2 pints fresh blackberries
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 cup water
* 1 lemon, zested

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break up blackberries as they cook. Strain syrup to remove seeds and serve warm.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Inside-Out Beef Wellington

This is my take on a recipe I saw on the Food Network. It turned out SO good. My husband doesn't even like mushrooms, and he loved this. It's a little more time-consuming, but worth it!

* 1 sirloin steak (about 2-inches thick)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
* 1/2 cup dijon mustard
* 1 egg
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* Sauteed Wild Mushroom Sauce, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and preheat grill to medium-high.

Season beef with salt and pepper and set aside.

Unfold puff pastry and evenly brush 1 sheet with mustard, covering entire surface. Unfold second puff pastry and place on top of the first, then cut into 4 equal pieces. Press the pastry edges with tines of a fork to seal and cut 3 small slits halfway deep in the center of each pastry rectangle to allow steam to escape when it cooks. Set pastry rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment. In a small bowl whisk egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush pastry rectangles with egg wash and bake 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

Brush beef with oil. Season with salt and pepper and grill until it's medium-rare. Remove beef from the grill and place on a cutting board. Let meat rest 10 minutes before slicing. To serve, place a puff pastry rectangle on each serving plate. Top with beef slices and drizzle with Sauteed Mushroom Sauce.

Sauteed Wild Mushroom Sauce:

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves chopped (or about 1/4 t. dried)
* 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 4 teaspoons dijon mustard

Heat a saute pan to medium heat. Add butter and olive oil. Add garlic and thyme leaves and saute for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper, saute until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Cook in batches, if necessary, so that the mushrooms don't steam. Return all mushrooms to pan, if working in batches. Add heavy cream and mustard and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tortilla Soup Mix

Place in gallon storage bag:
2-1/2 cups slightly crushed tortilla chips

Place in a quart storage bag:
1 cup long grain rice

Mix the following and place in quart storage bag:
2 tbsp chicken bouillon granules
2 tsp lemon flavored sugar
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dried minced onion

Needed for cooking:
1 (5-oz) can chicken
1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies

Remove seasoning packet and rice from the large bag. In a one gallon soup pot, add the rice and 10 cups of water. Add can diced tomatoes and green chilies, plus the seasoning packet. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the tortilla chips, replace the cover and simmer 5 more minutes. (Makes 3 quarts soup.)

Brownie Mix & Recipe

Brownie Mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 cups sugar
4-oz (1 c) unsweetened cocoa powder

Stir in bowl with wire whisk. Store in airtight container (or gallon storage bag) in a cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks.

(Will make about three batches of brownies)

Our Best Brownies
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cup BROWNIE MIX
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8-in square pan. Combine the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and brownie mix. Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until edges separate from pan.

** The batter is really thick, but bakes up just fine!

Buttermilk Pancake Mix

In each of four quart-size bags place the following:
1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

When ready to make, put mix in bowl and add the following:
1 c. buttermilk
1 large egg
2 T. vegetable oil

Optional add-ins: 1/4 t. vanilla, mini chocolate chips, 1/2 c. fruit, trail mix, etc.

Heat griddle to 375. Grease with margarine, butter, or cooking spray. Pour slightly less than 1/4 c. batter onto hot griddle. Cook pancake until puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other side until golden brown.

(Each bag of mix makes about 9 (4-in) pancakes)

Pizza Dough Mix

Makes 2 -- 12 inch crusts

2- 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast (or one packet)
2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Place mix in an airtight container.

Place dough mix in a large bowl and add 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 cup warm water. Beat with a wooden spoon or dough hook until mixture forms a ball. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Transfer to a greased bowl and let the dough rise for 90 minutes. Divide the dough in half and pat into two 12-inch circles. For thin crust, fill and bake the pizzas now. For thicker crust, let pizzas rise 30-45 minutes. Top the pizza dough with tomato sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chicken Curry

This was simple and fast -- and delicious! I think it's one of my new fave dinners!

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 can (12-14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups packed fresh baby spinach

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the salt. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

2. Stir in the coconut milk, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the chicken (I seasoned with salt & pepper first), stir well, and cook 5-6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the spinach and cook for 3 minutes or until wilted, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt. Serve over rice.

(I got this recipe from Family Fun Magazine. Says it makes 4 servings, but there was plenty leftover when my family was done!)

Slow Berry Cobbler

This is SO easy to make, and delicious! My family cobbled it up, alongside some vanilla bean ice cream. Yum! I got the recipe from Paula Deen. :)

1 (10-oz) bag frozen raspberries
1 (10-oz) bag frozen blueberries
1 (10-oz) bag frozen blackberries*
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking mix (like Bisquick)

2-1/4 cup baking mix
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Spray the insert of a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together all the frozen fruit, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup baking mix. Transfer the fruit to the slow cooker. In another large mixing bowl, stir together 2-1/4 cups baking mix, 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, and milk with a wooden spoon. With your hands, drop bits of dough on top of the fruit in the slow cooker. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the dough and place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, until the topping has puffed and the fruit is bubbling.

* Recipe originally called for strawberries rather than blackberries, but I used the latter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Italian Baked Pork Chops

These were so yummy! My entire family gobbled them up! They are a little similar to the Dijon pork chops, yet are so different. :)

1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
4 pork chops, not thick or too thin
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, oil, and Italian seasoning. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then brush both sides with mustard mixture. Press Parmesan into both sides of chops.

Flash freeze or wrap each pork chop individually in wax paper. Place in freezer bag.

To cook, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pork chops on baking sheet and bake about 10-12 minutes (or until just cooked through) in 400 degree oven (no need to flip).

Beer BBQ Chicken

Either throw it right in the crock pot, or into a freezer bag to save for later!

2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs (bone-in or boneless)
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, cut into wedges or slices
1/2 cup dark beer or ale
3/4 cup barbecue sauce

Put chicken in freezer bag (or crock pot) and season with salt & pepper. Add onions. In a bowl, combine beer and barbecue sauce. Pour mixture over chicken and onions.

If frozen, thaw in refrigerator. Cook in crockpot on high for 3 hours or low 6 hours.

Breakfast Casserole

I love making breakfast casseroles, especially when family's in town. Quick, easy, and make-ahead! I found this one that incorporated hash browns and it was delicious!

30-oz bag frozen shredded hashbrowns
1 tbsp dried onion
16-oz container cottage cheese
1 small can diced green chilies
2 cups (1 lb) your fave breakfast meat (cubed ham, cooked & crumbled bacon, cooked sausage)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 dozen eggs

Coat casserole dish with cooking spray. Put hash browns in dish, then add dried onion, cottage cheese, and green chilies. Mix gently. Now add meat and 1.5 cups cheese and mix again. Beat the eggs and pour over the mixture. Put remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top.

If freezing, cover with saran wrap and foil. Bake at 350 for ~2 hours (one hour covered, second hour uncovered). It will be set and slightly brown on top. (If not frozen, it will cook in slightly over an hour.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oodles of Noodles Asian Soup

I told Roman he could choose anything he wanted from a kid's cookbook we have and we would make it together. To my surprise, he by-passed the desserts and snacks and choose this Asian soup with peas and noodles! Both boys loved this! I changed the recipe to fit our taste, and here it is:

4 c. chicken stock
2 oz. dried vermicelli
Salt to taste (I used about a pinch)
3/4 c. frozen peas
2 boneless, skinless chicken tenders diced small
1 1/2 t. dried chives
1 1/2 t. sesame oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Bring chicken stock, salt, and raw chicken to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat to medium and boil until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

2. Add vermicelli and peas. Cook until noodles are al dente.

3. Stir in chives and oil.

*Note: I served the soup to my kids and then stirred in some red pepper flakes for myself, which added really good flavor.*

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Frozen Chocolate-Raspberry Pie

1 quart (4 cups) raspberry sherbet
1/2 cup hot fudge topping, slightly warmed
1 prepared Oreo cookie crumb crust (6 oz)
If desired, have fresh raspberries, whipped topping, and chocolate sauce on hand to garnish before serving.

Let container of sherbet stand at room temperature about 15 minutes to soften. Spoon and spread chocolate topping carefully in bottom of crumb crust; place in freezer for 15 minutes to set. Spoon and spread sherbet over fudge topping in crust. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze 3 hours. Garnish individual servings with dollop of whipped topping, drizzle of fudge topping and fresh raspberries.

Slow-Cooked Beer Braised Beef

If you don't have a crock pot, this can also be prepared on the stove top/in the oven.

3lb. beef chuck roast
12oz. bottle of beer
1 onion, sliced
1 t. soy sauce
1 t. black pepper
3 t. dried basil

Place all ingredients in a large freezer bag. Remove air, seal, and freeze.

Serving day:
Thaw overnight (at least) in fridge. Add contents of bag to crock pot. Cook on high for 1 hour, then low for up to 8 hours (I left it on low for about 7 hours). If the "beer-y" taste is too strong for you, it is easily masked with a little BBQ or steak sauce.

If you don't have a crock pot, heat a large pot over high heat with 1 T canola oil. Brown roast on all sides. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover & place in oven preheated to 275 for 7 to 9 hours (until meat is tender).

Pork Tenderloin w/ Spinach & Bleu Cheese

2 - 1lb. pork tenderloins
2 - 10oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1/4 c. red wine
1 t. minced garlic
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
6oz. bleu cheese, crumbled (for a milder flavor, cream cheese can be used)

Cut each tenderloin on the diagonal into 4 equal portions. Spread spinach in shallow casserole dish large enough to hold pork without crowding dish. Nestle pork into spinach. Sprinkle with wine, garlic, vinegar, and seasonings. Crumble bleu cheese on and around pork, leaving an area uncovered if bleu cheese is not popular in your family. Wrap dish in foil (from the bottom up); you can store it in the fridge for 24 hours or freeze for up to two weeks.

Serving Day:
If frozen, thaw in fridge for 48 hours prior to roasting. Preheat oven to 350. Bake (covered) for 25-30 minutes, or until internal meat temp registers 160 and only a hint of pink remains in the center.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe in an cookbook, where it had 258 ratings and an average of 5 stars. I figured it had to be good, but was a little tentative when I saw the odd assortment of seasonings. I modified it a bit and I'm listing the recipe as I made it. It was delicious! My husband loved it and my son Roman gobbled it up. This is definitely going to be made again!

1 box farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken tenders sliced lengthwise into thin strips
2 T. Cajun seasoning
2 T. butter
1 green bell pepper, cut in quarters and then sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut in quarters and then sliced
1 small pkg. sliced mushrooms
5 green onions, sliced
3 c. heavy cream
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. lemon pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/4 c. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Boil pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, coat chicken with Cajun seasoning in a bowl. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute the chicken in the butter for 5-7 min until juices run clear. Add peppers, mushrooms, and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Season the sauce with the basil, lemon pepper, salt, and black pepper. Heat through, then let stand for 10 minutes covered.

3. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce and sprinkle with the shredded Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Parmesan Chicken Burgers

I got this recipe from a Robin Miller cookbook. My whole family loved the taste of these burgers! They would also make wonderful meatballs.

1 pound ground chicken
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 hamburger buns

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick. Either flash freeze or individually wrap in wax paper. Place in freezer bag.

To cook: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in stovetop grill pan, griddle, or large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers for 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Top with mozzarella cheese, tent with foil, and cook for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts. Serve on hamburger buns with tomato slices and fresh basil leaves if desired.

Pork Chops with "Bourbon" Barbecue Sauce

I found this recipe and tweaked it a bit... You can also use chicken thighs in place of the pork chops. My family loved it!

4 thick-cut pork chops (or 2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/8 cup apple juice mixed with 1/4 tsp vanilla extract*
1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder

Season the meat with salt and pepper and place in freezer bag. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Seal and freeze.

To cook: Thaw in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 400. Coat shallow roasting pan with cooking spray and place meat on it. Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until cooked through.

*You can also use 1/8 cup bourbon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lazy Lasagna

This recipe can be customized by adding spinach, ground cooked beef or sausage, crushed red pepper flakes, or trying a new type of ravioli/sauce. Make it your own!

1 large bag of frozen cheese ravioli (~24oz)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
28oz jar red pasta sauce of your choice
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Arrange half of the frozen ravioli in a single layer at the bottom of a 9"x13" casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil. Top with about a third of the pasta sauce, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place another layer of ravioli on top, and repeat. Top dish with mozzarella cheese. Cover with cling wrap and foil to freeze if desired.

Serving day: Preheat oven to 350°. If frozen, bake covered casserole (foil only) for about 1 hour 15 minutes, uncover, then bake for 10 minutes more or until bubbly. If cooking directly after preparation, bake covered for 35 minutes, uncover, then bake for 10 minutes more or until bubbly.

Tequila Lime Chicken

2 lbs raw boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 T bottled margarita mix
1 T tequila
1 T lime juice
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a large freezer bag. Mix well, seal, and freeze.

Serving Day: Slice each breast in half horizontally, so that no piece is more than 1" thick. Arrange chicken slices on a greased broiler pan. Broil chicken 5" from the broiler, turning frequently and basting, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 170°. Do not baste during the last 5 minutes of cooking. If you prefer, chicken can be grilled over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes, turning and basting every 5 minutes. Do not baste during the last 5 minutes of grilling. Discard remaining marinade.

Shanghai Stir-Fry

2 lbs raw boneless top sirloin steaks, cut into narrow strips
1/3 c cranberry juice
3 T soy sauce
3 T packed brown sugar
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. minced ginger
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 T orange zest

Combine all ingredients above in a large freezer bag. Mix well, seal and freeze.
*you will also need an 11oz can of mandarin orange slices (drained) and 2 t. vegetable oil on hand in your pantry for serving day*

Serving Day: Thaw completely in fridge. Pour off marinade and reserve. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and stir-fry until well-browned, about 10 minutes. Remove beef from pan and keep warm. Add marinade to skillet, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. Return beef to pan. Add mandarin oranges and stir to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

Aztec Quiche

1 1/4 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 c. grated mild cheddar cheese, divided
9" deep-dish frozen pie shell
4oz can diced green chilies
1 c. half and half
3 eggs, beaten slightly
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. ground cumin

Spread Monterey Jack cheese and half of cheddar over bottom of pie shell. Sprinkle diced chilies over cheeses. In a bowl, mix the half-and-half, eggs, salt, and cumin. Pour carefully into pie shell. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar. Cover pie with foil and freeze.

Serving Day: Thaw quiche in fridge. Preheat oven to 325°, remove foil, and bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes or until center is set.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tomato Soup

When trying to come up for a quick and easy dinner, I saw I had some things I could work with to make tomato soup. I was really happy with how it came out -- so delicious and really hit the spot! My kids gobbled it down, along with some ham & cheese toasties. :) (This could also be frozen -- it makes quite a bit!)

8 tbsp (1/2 cup) butter, divided
6 tbsp flour
16 oz chicken broth (or 14.5 oz can)
46-oz can tomato juice
2 tsp dried basil
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup half & half or whipping cream

In large soup pot over med-high heat melt 6 tbsp of the butter. Stir in flour and let cook for about a minute. Whisk in the chicken broth, making sure it's not lumpy, then add the tomato juice and stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir in cream and add remaining 2 tbsp butter. Let cook until butter is melted.

Margarita Lime Pie

We've been enjoying Nikki's recipe for frozen Key Lime pie, and it brought to mind this recipe I came across last summer. :)

1 1/4 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup sugar
6T butter or margarine, melted
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 envelope Kool-Aid Lemon Lime unsweetened drink mix
1 tub (8oz) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
*for added lime flavor, stir in 2T grated lime peel*

Mix crushed pretzels, sugar, and butter. Press firmly onto bottom and up the side of 9" pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Combine condensed milk, lime juice and drink mix in large bowl until well blended. Remove 1/2 cup Cool Whip; refrigerate until ready to use. Gently stir in remaining whipped topping. Pour into crust.

Freeze 6 hours or overnight. Let stand at room temp 15 minutes or until pie can be cut easily. Garnish with reserved Cool Whip before serving. Store leftover pie in freezer.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Elsa's Baked Ziti

I found this in Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book & had to try it! It's actually her mother's recipe, and it is so yummy. Enjoy!

1 pound ziti rigate (with ridges) or rigatoni
2 c. ricotta cheese
Grill Seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
A couple of handfuls of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 c. crushed tomatoes *I like more sauce & would double this*
A few fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water, add the pasta, and cook to al dente.

Drain the ricotta cheese in a strainer or a colander lined with paper towels. Place the drained ricotta in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish and season with some grill seasoning and a few handfuls of Parm Cheese.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and sauté for minute or two, then stir in the tomatoes and basil. Reduce the heat to low.

Drain the pasta and toss with the cheese mixture. Add the tomato sauce, top the pasta with more Parm, and bake until the cheese browns, about 15 minutes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Frozen Key Lime Pie

This is so easy to make! It's yummy right after it's been made, partially frozen, or completely frozen. It's something you can keep in your freezer or whip up when you have company coming!

8-oz container cool whip, thawed
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
9-in prepared graham cracker crust

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cool whip, condensed milk, and lime juice until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the crust and smooth the surface. Set in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Once pie is frozen, cover it with plastic wrap then aluminum foil. It will keep for up to one month.

** For variety, use fresh lemon or orange juice instead of lime juice.

Lemon-Rosemary Pork Loin

I got this recipe from a Robin Miller cookbook & modified it to be a freezer meal. It was so simple, delicious, and the most moist pork loin I've ever had! My husband and kids agreed - we'll definitely be using this recipe a lot!

1 1/4-lb pork tenderloin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried rosemary (or 2 tbsp fresh)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Place pork loin in freezer bag; season with salt & pepper. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, rosemary, and mustard; pour over pork loin in bag. (**If you want to make it tonight, simply place pork loin in (cooking spray-coated) shallow roasting pan and pour mixed marinade over top.)

To cook: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400. Place roast in (cooking spray-coated) shallow roasting pan. Roast until thermometer reads 160*, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Foil-Pack Chicken & Artichoke Dinner

I got this recipe from Kraft foods -- easy and delicious! It's another meal you can make ahead of time and freeze or for dinner tonight.

3 cups instant white rice, uncooked
3 cups warm water
12 boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 can artichoke hearts, drained & quartered
1 can petite diced tomatoes or 2 large chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup pesto

Mix rice and water; spoon onto centers of 6 large sheets of heavy duty foil. Top with 2 chicken tenders, artichokes, and tomatoes; drizzle with combined dressing & pesto.

Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and both ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. If freezing, place in freezer bags.

To Cook: (Thaw in fridge before cooking.) Heat oven to 400. Place foil packets on baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes or until chicken is done (165*). Remove packets from oven; let stand 5 min.

No-Fuss Chicken Cordon Bleu

This is an easy way to get the flavors of chicken cordon bleu without stuffing the chicken. It's got a great creamy sauce that the chicken bakes with, and is great served over egg noodles (or even rice). You can make it for dinner tonight or put in the freezer for another busy night!

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-3 strips (depending on their size)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp paprika
4 oz sliced swiss cheese
3 oz ham slices, cut into strips
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs

Combine cream of chicken, sour cream, paprika, and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix well and place in bottom of 9x13 pan. Crack an egg on a a plate and beat well. Place breadcrumbs on additional plate. Coat chicken strips with egg and then breadcrumbs. Arrange coated chicken over the top of sauce in the pan. Place ham strips over the top of chicken and top with swiss cheese.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 375 and bake uncovered 30-40 minutes or until chicken juices run clear & cheese is bubbly. Serve over egg noodles.

To Freeze: Use saran wrap or press & seal over the top of the pan, then use foil all the way around to ensure air tight. Store in the freezer up to 2 months. Defrost completely in fridge before baking.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake

I got this recipe from Kraft Foods, but altered it a bit. It's so yummy and easy to make!

14.5 oz pkg multi-grain penne pasta
6 oz pkg fresh spinach leaves
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bit-size pieces
1 tsp dried basil
1 jar (26 oz) spaghetti sauce
3 oz Neufchatel cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375.

Cook pasta as directed on package, adding spinach to the boiling water the last minute.

Cook chicken in 2 tbsp olive oil, seasoning with salt, pepper, and basil. When chicken is almost cooked, stir in spaghetti sauce; bring to boil. Simmer on low heat 3 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in Neufchatel.

Drain pasta mixture; return to pan. Stir in chicken mixture, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and parmesan. Spoon into casserole dish and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 20 min.

**You can also freeze this before baking -- cover with press-n-seal (or saran wrap) and then foil. Thaw before baking, and add 10-15 minutes to baking time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Apple Turkey Burgers

This recipe is courtesy of Leanne Ely, author of Saving Dinner. I adapted it to make it a freezer meal. Enjoy!

1.5 lbs ground turkey
1 t. poultry seasoning
2 t. garlic powder
1/4 c. applesauce, chunky style
1 egg
Salt & pepper to taste
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
6 whole wheat buns (serving day)
1 T vegetable oil (serving day)

In a large bowl, combine turkey, seasoning, garlic powder, applesauce, and egg; add salt/pepper to taste. Mix well until fully combined. Divide evenly into 6 patties about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap individually and place in large freezer bag.

Serving day: In a skillet, heat oil over med-high heat. Add the patties and cook 5 minutes each side, or until cooked through. Be careful when you turn them - they're fragile! Serve on warmed buns w/ your choice of condiments.

Island Jerk Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken pieces
2 T brown sugar
2 T vegetable oil
2 T soy sauce
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. thyme
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix

Combine ingredients except chicken in a small bowl. Add chicken to large freezer bag, then add jerk mixture. Move the chicken around to thoroughly coat, remove air, then seal and freeze.

Serving day: thaw in refrigerator and remove chicken pieces, disposing of the leftover marinade. Barbecue on a grill or bake in a 375 oven for approx 60 minutes (may vary depending on which chicken pieces are used).

Chili Maple Glazed Chicken

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken pieces
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 T chili powder
1/4 t. cumin

Combine all in a large freezer bag, remove air, and seal.

For the oven: Empty the contents of the bag into a large baking dish and bake at 350°F until the juices run clear (45-60 minutes).
For the crockpot: cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.
On the grill: cook over medium heat until juices run clear.

Avocado Dip

You can add other things to this dip depending on your preferences (garlic powder, onion powder, etc.). We used an electric whisk on the cream to save time.

2 avocados
2 T lemon juice
1 T oil
1 t. mustard
1 t. confectioner's sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
5/8 cups whipping cream

Cut avocados in half, remove stones, scoop out the flesh and add to bowl. Mash well. Mix together lemon juice, oil, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper, then stir into avocado mixture.

Whisk cream until it forms soft peaks, and then add to avocado mixture. Place in freezer container and freeze. To serve: thaw at room temperature for 6 hours. Place in bowl and serve with chips, veggies, etc.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

School Night Cheeseburger Bake

I got this recipe from Pampered Chef. I usually leave off the potatoes, but the mustard adds a nice tang to this casserole.

1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
2 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
4 oz. (1 c) shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 c. shredded frozen potato nuggets

1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 9x9 baker with vegetable oil.

2. Cook ground beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain well. Return to skillet. Add corn, soup, cheese, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Spoon beef mixture into pan. Top evenly with potato nuggets.

3. Bake 35-40 min or until hot and bubbly.

Yield: 9 servings